Updated October 5, 2020 . AmFam Team
Do you remember the day you got your driver’s license? It was so exciting! Odds are, as your kids reach driving age, they’re right there with you.
Times have likely changed since you were a teen driver. Cell phones are everywhere today, making distracted driving a problem now more than ever. In addition to smartphone safety while driving, there’s a lot to learn about keeping your new driver safe on the road today. So, as your teen gears up for their own license and newfound freedom, help them get in the know and stay focused behind the wheel with these tips for safe teen driving.
According to the CDC (Opens in a new tab), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Factors that put teen drivers at risk include:
It’s possible to prevent teen car accidents, and there are ways teens can be convinced to drive more safely.
Because parents are among the biggest influencers in their kids’ lives, it’s fair to say that teens are watching you drive. So, if you drive the way you want your kids to, you’ll find that modeling safe driving habits will pay off. Your teen will begin to understand these concepts before they get behind the wheel, and may repeat your process when they’re on their own.
Here are some key new driver safety tips your teen should know as they get ready to ride solo.
Mention to your teens that there’s a learning curve to becoming a good driver. Let the smaller mistakes become a chance to teach them. Continue to coach your teen to drive safely each time you’re in the car.
Teach your teen the first thing to do when getting in the car. Tell them to put on their seat belt — and ask their passengers to buckle up, too. Remind them to check their mirrors and clean them if they’re dirty or covered with snow before taking off.
Let your teen know that if a dash light goes on to pull over and call a parent immediately. Some lights come on because the danger is imminent — others only need attention soon. Making sure your teen knows where the car’s user manual is and how to read it can help them become proactive in situations like this.
Some newer cars are starting to come equipped with a teen driver mode, which is a built-in system that coaches new drivers. It lets parents set speed alerts, volume limits on media, and some even have a “report card mode,” which holds onto details for parents to review later. If you’re shopping for a new car for your new teen driver, these can really help you understand how your teens are driving while they're alone. Another way to reinforce good driving habits is to enroll in our Teen Safe Driver program, which can even offer you a discount on your insurance rates!
It’s a good idea to keep your gas tank at least a quarter full. If you don’t dip below that, you won’t be at risk of running out of gas. Teens will have a lot on their minds when they’re first starting to drive.
Once that learner’s permit is in hand, your teen will likely be eager to put in some miles on the road. Here are a few safe teen driving tips that’ll help them stay safe while they’re breaking in the driver’s seat.
Teach your teen to stay out of other driver’s blind spots, especially semi-trucks, and that it’s best to assume someone is in their blind spot when changing lanes or turning. That way, they get into the habit of turning and looking to check, instead of relying only on a mirror or a sensor.
It only takes a couple seconds to walk behind the car to check for objects or kids before backing out of a driveway or parking spot — have your new driver build it into their routine!
When parking on the street, remind your teen to check for traffic and bikes before opening their driver-side door. Make sure they know how to rely on their mirrors before making a move. All it takes is a moment to be sure it’s safe.
They should always use their signal when changing lanes. If they don’t and something happens, they could be at fault. Another important part of that is to teach them to let the signal run for a few moments before turning. That way, everyone around knows to expect a turn or lane change.
In driver’s education, teens learn all about the dangers of distracted driving, like texting, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, eating, talking on the phone or changing the music. Yet over time, it’s easy for bad habits to start creeping into our daily commutes. It’s up to all of us to lead by example and stay safe on the roads.
New teen driving laws are coming on the books all the time. Educate yourself about your state’s laws so you and your kids aren’t taken by surprise. Certain states have really increased the penalties for distracted driving — some even consider eating as distracted driving!
Driving near or below the speed limit is a great way to guide young drivers. Going too fast or even too slow can increase the risk of accidents.
Teach them to slow down well before they need to stop. Braking quickly at stop signs or lights is hard on the car and can seem unpredictable to other drivers and pedestrians.
Because parents set the rules before teens hit the road, take time and be sure your teens know the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s teen driver rules:
Learning to drive is an exciting time for your teen. But make sure they know that with this new freedom comes big responsibility. It’s a rite of passage that deserves their full attention and respect. These teen safe driving tips and your contribution to their future safety on the road can help them to develop great driving habits that can last a lifetime.
Teen driving safety is very important, and so is being properly insured. Want to learn more ways you can help your teen be safer behind the wheel? Check with your American Family Insurance agent (Opens in a new tab) to find how they can build you a car insurance policy that covers you best. You’re going to feel great knowing that your teenager’s driving safely, and that your family’s got the coverage they need.